What does Sticky Website mean in SEO?
This is the term given to websites with one or two characteristics:
- the site makes people want to stay on it
- the site makes people want to come back to it regularly
Exactly which of the above a sticky website is continues to be a matter of debate although the fundamentals are the same: Websites that generate positive user behaviour are recognised by search engines and their rankings increase.
How does this happen? Well search engines know how often they show a website in the search results for keyword X and how often users click through to the site (known as the Click Through Rate). They can also tell how often a user clicks the back button to return to the search results and how long it took for them to reach the decision to do this.
From this search engines gain three pieces of information:
- How often users click through from the search results (the Click Through Rate)
- How often those users who click through click the back button (the Bounce Rate)
- How long it takes before they click the back button (Time to Bounce)
Thus making sure a website has an attractive entry in the search results is one thing, but if users bounce to much and too quickly (compared to competitor websites) you can expect to loose your rankings for keyword X.
So making a website 'sticky' is all about creating engaging content that will encourage the user to stay on the page or go deeper into the website.
As an example, up until 2012, this website presented information like this on a single page. We then added the content you see to the right of this page which is basically "other information that you might be interested in".
Some of it is generated dynamically depending on the page you are looking at in order to make the "other information" more relevant to what you are looking at.
After adding this extra column the average time a user spent on this site doubled and the bounce rate fell 45%. As a result rankings increased and website traffic doubled.
So one crucial way to improve your rankings is to consider how to make the website sticky. How to make sure people "stick around" for longer.